Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fiction...but real.

Finally, my guilty pleasure started tonight. (Okay, I should clarify that ONE of my guilty pleasures has started tonight, as I've developed several lately). Desperate Housewives finally has aired.

And the housewife I've always identified with..Lynette...with the 4 kids, who's always seemed so harried, who's hair is always in a pony tail, who has struggled between the decision to be a mom and the decision to go back to work...well, now I have something else with which to identify with her.

No we both get to go through cancer together.

I'd sure love to know where she got her wig. Because it's a thousand times better than mine!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Feeling her spirit

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my dear grandmother’s death. She was so incredibly special to me and I miss her immensely. Although, I am glad that she doesn’t have to go through this cancer with me, because she was such a worry wart, and I wouldn’t want her worrying about me all the time. However, I wish she was around for me to talk to. I am not a phone person…I really don’t like chatting on the telly. But she could call me every day if she wanted to, just to check to see how I was doing, and it wouldn’t annoy me in the least. I would look forward to her calls.

As I begin my poison this week, in my Slash/Poison/Burn strategy of attack, I’ll be thinking a lot of my Mom-mom, who went through chemo for stomach cancer. Because she lived in New Jersey, I wasn’t around for her treatment, but everyone told me that she approached it with courage and grace. She wore her wig proudly and always looked so well put together.

I hope I can endure my chemo with the same spirit, strength, and spunk as my Mom-mom.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Cancer or 2 toddlers in the morning....which would you rather encounter

I thought this morning was going to be easy. The only one I had to get ready and out the door by a certain time was Cameron. The rest of us could just chill and get ready all in our own time. No rushing. No yelling. No problems. Silly me to think such a thing.

When it was time to take Cameron to the bus, I had the other two kids settled watching TV while I waited with Cameron just across the street on the corner. I was out there for about five minutes when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Max come zooming down the driveway on his scooter! That little pipsqueak was outside, in shorts, with his rugby shirt on backwards riding his scooter like it was the middle of the afternoon!

A couple minutes later Cameron’s bus came, and I managed to drag Max back inside with me…..

….where I was confronted with a bare-bottomed Ella and poop (poop that one could not imagine such a cute little girl producing) resting on the floor near her toys, with some spread all over her legs and our family room carpet.

I quickly cleaned her off with diaper wipes, while ignoring Max’s cries to do chalk. I carried her up to the bathroom and plopped her in the bathtub. I then came downstairs to try to get Max’s mind off the chalk and onto the playdough he usually requests. But he wasn’t sitting at the table where I left him, and instead I found him outside in the driveway…looking for chalk.

After getting him settled in with some playdough, I cleaned up the poop…discovering new smears everytime I glanced around the room.

Knowing I should get up to Ella who was sitting in the tub alone, I ran upstairs to find her out of the tub standing on a stool, naked, brushing her teeth with Cameron’s toothbrush.

After our usual struggle, I was able to get her dressed so that she could join her brother in his now play dough mess. But what we came down to was Max, “cleaning.” He had abandoned his play dough creations and sprayed the carpet cleaner that I accidentally left lying on the carpet, all over everything in the family room…on the leather ottoman, on the wood tables, on the concrete fireplace, and all over the carpet.

Then Sara walked in….not a moment too soon. Although I’m sure she wished she had just called in sick after seeing and smelling our morning adventures!

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Study? Or not.

Based on a conversation my mom's group was having, a friend of mine sent out this article linking alcohol use and breast cancer.

My only thought was, damn, if they link it to caffeine as well, then I might as well just shoot myself now.


Then I found an article that questions absolute the findings of the study, and my husband gave me a speech about how you can't just go off what you read in the news, but you have to read the actual study from the academic journal where it was published, see how it was conducted etc. etc. etc. I told him to go for it!

(Plus, the first article said the link to the alcohol might have to do with an increased level of estrogen, which may cause breast cancer. And well, I have the kind of breast cancer (triple negative) where this would not apply)

So for now...cheers!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wig Woes

Today Sara and I (and Max and Ella) went wig shopping. We found some place in Uptown that had dozens of wigs. One would think that with all my options, I’d be able to find something. That this could actually be a little fun. But as I feared, I didn’t like anything on me.

You know when you’re watching a TV show and someone is wearing a wig to disguise themselves (usually with a big pair of sunglasses), and it’s so obvious that they’re wearing a wig? Well, that’s what I felt every wig looked like.

The only one that looked like it could have potential…the one with real human hair that apparently Tyra Banks wears…cost $1,000! Ridiculous!

Sara helped me pick out the least of all the evils, and although she said it looked cute, to me it really just looks like a silly wig.

I actually bought two. Can you guys which one Max insisted I purchase?

He said I looked like one of the Doodlebops! And to him, that was just very cool!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some cooperation

Max and Ella usually get along so well (when she’s not throwing one of her I-want-my-way fits). They play together, watch TV together, swing together, and just plain hang out together.

They often like to sit on their booster seats in the pantry. When you open the door, they scream at the top of their lungs and laugh!

But the other day, they decided to just chill out in the pantry, hiding under blankets. Sara said they sat there still as can be, not moving a muscle!

Often, when Cameron enters the picture, the harmony gets out of sync, as his idea of fun is doing whatever he can to make them scream in fear, running to me in tears. But sometimes, things just click.

Last night Cameron had some extra math pages that his teacher told the kids to skip, but I make him do them at home anyhow. When Max heard that Cameron was doing his homework, Max insisted on working in his preschool “homework” book as well.

Both boys looked so cute concentrating on their worksheets. And Cameron was more than happy to help Max with his “opposites” pages, independently demonstrating for him the words’ meanings. Here he is showing Max the difference between ON and OFF.

He’s not supposed to be standing on the ottoman, but I just sat back and enjoyed the lesson.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

More reactions

The kids continue to react to my cancer in different ways.

Ella of course has no clue what is going on. She pulls and prods and pushes and throws tantrums in my arms, without any knowledge of the physical pain she is inflicting on me. The other day she was mad about something (can’t remember what now), and that little lady walked straight across the room on a mission…to hit me! That landed her in the “naughty corner,” which she promptly escaped from, knowing that I can’t physically keep her there. When she is hurting me, I do try to remind her of my oweee, and if it’s a rare occasion when she’s not in her almost-2-year-old-I-want-everything-my-way-state, she’ll even point to me and say, “Owee!”

Cameron doesn’t really say much. But a couple people have given me kid’s books about cancer. And without me even trying to force reading time on him, he voluntarily picked up the book and asked if I’d read it to him. So I can tell that he’s interested, but just doesn’t really know what to ask.

My little Max seems to appear the most affected. I wrote about how he was spooked at the hospital, and even when I came home. He’s ALWAYS including me in his prayers…at dinner time when he prays, he says something in a very jumbled way about making my cancer go away and making me feel better. He often asks about my oweee, and asks if it’s feeling better. He’s also very clingy lately, and often wants me to hold him or has to be near me. Today, when I was hanging out with him and Ella on the swing set, he remarked out of the blue, “Mommy, you’re going to be a boy, when your hair falls out.” That made me laugh. And I tried to explain that I’ll still be a girl, and the same person, but he insisted that No, I’ll be a boy.

It’ll be interesting to see how they all react when I’m actually bald.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

What a salesman

Cameron came home on Friday with one of those school fundraisers. You know the ones that get the kids all hyped up about selling items so that they can win really “great” prizes. Cameron said if he sold 25 items he could win some camera that he can put up in his room and when someone walks buy it shouts, “Intruder!” Of course the more he sells of this stuff-that-no-one-really-needs, the better the prize. And if he sells 175 items, he can win a Nintendo Wii game system.

I asked him what his plan was to sell these 175 items.

He didn’t even hesitate, handed me the catalogue and said, “You better start buying.”

If anyone happens to be interested in purchasing something from www.thechipshoppe.com, e-mail me and I’ll send you Cameron’s code.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

They finally won...I guess

This is Cameron’s third year playing soccer. He loves it and is quite aggressive…meaning, he’s pretty good….I think…from a parent’s standpoint.

When given Cameron’s original soccer schedule, oddly there were no games assigned to this weekend. This worked out well, since my best friend Lanette was flying in from Philly for a brief visit.

However, last weekend, I learned that there was actually a “Soccer Jubilee” in place for this Saturday. This involved 3 half-hour games in a 3 hour time period. One at 9:35, one at 10:35, and the final one at 11:35. Who thought this would be fun? (None of the parents that I talked to).

On the flyer, it said that representatives from the competitive soccer league and trainers would be available during the jubilee. The kids are SIX, do they need trainers?

Fortunately, my neighbor across the street offered to take Cameron with her to the early games. I arrived with my crew just as the 2nd game was ending. Unfortunately, they had lost both of them.

But the third game was something else. Even Cameron, who hates when he has to sit out, was exhausted, and asked for a break. His red cheeks worried me, as the sun beat down upon them. But after some Gatorade and time in the shade, he was ready to attack that goal again.

And they actually won. Finally, it seemed that they were able to dominate the other team for a change….even with the kid on their team who always picks up the ball with his hands….even when he’s not goalie! Cameron’s team actually won a game. And he scored a couple goals.

Okay, they played a girls’ team…but most of the girls were taller than them. So they still won, fair and square….I think.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Not Teaching

Four weeks ago, I was meeting with my partner teacher, discussing the curriculum I was to teach this year. I was a bit nervous about starting at 2 new buildings, but just so excited to get back into the classroom (after a 3 year hiatus to have babies) to work the minds of those teenagers, introducing new books, getting some great writing out of them, etc. And then I came home to my cancer diagnosis. And I knew what I had to do.

A lot of people asked me if I was still going to teach, and my husband tried to convince me that I could still do it. But I didn’t even hesitate…I knew I had to quit. Kids, especially teenagers, need consistency. They need a teacher who would be there day in and day out, both mentally, physically and emotionally. I knew that wasn’t going to be possible with me, so I did what I had to do.

Plus, who knew how much of my energy would be sapped by all the “stuff” I’d be going through. And any that I had left needed to be given to my own kids and husband. There was no doubt in my mind that I needed to just quit.

Although the decision was easy, the ramifications of that decision is not. One of the reasons why I had to get back into the classroom was because I was bored. Cooking and cleaning up and other household duties are just that to me…duties. Not fun. Not stimulating. Just boring work. But teaching is a challenge. It’s exciting and it’s fun. It’s also very hard and very time consuming and there are many days when I wish I didn’t have to face the attitudes and the parents and the apathy. However, overall I gain a lot of my self-worth and energy from the positive results of my planning and teaching…from the students themselves.

But I did have to laugh yesterday when I received my first (and last) paycheck from the district where I was employed for one day. That day that I worked on curriculum, I actually got paid for. I honestly feel guilty cashing it…but it will be used for something good. Also this week, my teaching license for Minnesota finally made it through the renewal process. Great…except I don’t need it now. But I’ll hold onto it, keep it in a safe place, because in a year or two, it will still be valid, and I WILL actually put it to good use.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

I LOVE school! Repeat.

Cameron keeps complaining about school. His reasons are completely innocuous, and actually quite preposterous (using the thesaurus…can you tell!). They deal with not getting to play with his friends, not being able to watch movies during snack time (like in Kindergarten), not getting a drink at snack time (like in Kindergarten), etc. I think I’ve lectured him so much about the importance of an education and his attitude about school that whenever anyone asks him if he likes school, and I’m within earshot, he sorta mumbles a “yeah.” I figure that saying it is the first step to believing it. (My brother will probably say that I’m brainwashing the kid).

If anyone should be complaining about going to school, it should be Max. Because his preschool is on the days that I usually get together with his girlfriend’s mom and some other friends. Last week we went to the zoo, and without Max there, well, his Abby decided to move on to younger, more available men.

I guess when the cats away, the mouse will play…even if she’s only three!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't read this if you're expecting a cheery attitude.

No chuckles or smiles here today. Today was just a crappy day, and I won’t even try to mask it with humor.

You know that pain that I’ve been mentioning, well, it has not been going away. Any touch of the surgical area, including in my armpit area and in the under part of my upper arm, just feels like needles...kinda like brush bristles being rubbed, hard, against my skin. Any touch, even the touch of my shirt, causes this pain. Needless to say, I’m really crabby about this. Doing ANYTHING incites the pain, and it just sucks.

I called the doctor, and he had me come in. But on my way there, as I was chomping on a mint, I chipped my tooth. Now this is completely my fault, because a year and half ago I had a root canal, and never went back for the $700 crown. Didn’t know it was so important…apparently it is.

Anyway, while sitting in the doctor’s office, I flipped through O Magazine, which someone had given me in a care basket. One of the articles was entitled, “The Breast Caner Nobody Is Talking About: The news about breast cancer is good, and getting better all the time—except for one virulent, fast-acting type that attacks more than twice as many young black women as all other women…” Then it went on to describe mostly the “triple-negative” cancer that I have (even though obviously I’m not black)…which is very aggressive, and why despite having a mastectomy, I also must have chemo and radiation, even though the cancer hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes. It was just a bit depressing actually reading about it.

Finally I was called to the back. After explaining to my doctor the pain, he explained that it was some nerve thing (as usual…very detailed medical terms I’ll be using here), having something to do with the nerves being cut. And that the pain isn’t actually physical, but neurological. He made it clear that this does not mean it’s “in my head” but it is related to the nerves. At least I think that’s what he said. I understand it all when he’s telling me, but as soon as I walk out that door, if I haven’t written anything down to review, all the information just sorta mushes and blends and the details are blurry. Anyhow, Dr. Sanan said it’s not a common side effect, but it does happen sometimes. I asked him how long I was going to feel this way. He told me that he didn’t know anyone who had it forever. (Not sure if that was a joke or not). He then prescribed me some medicine that isn’t actually for pain, but something that they often give to people with epilepsy…again, something with nerves and such. The problem is, the medicine will make me drowsy. And I have to take it 3 times a day! For at least a month! Not really the news I wanted to hear. I did ask him if it was going to make me gain weight, and he told me no. So at least that’s good.

Afterwards, I went to the dentist and made an appointment…well a few, for this whole tooth correction plus a cleaning. While there, I left my glasses. Of course I didn’t know this until a couple hours later after I was already in a panic about not being able to see.

At one point, I was finally able to lie down and just take a nap. I did make myself get up to greet Cameron from his bus, only to be encountered with a very angry child. Let me back up, this morning, he found a salamander in our garage. They’re gross, like short snakes with legs. But he couldn’t seem to capture it. After getting on the bus, one of my neighbors got the slimy thing out and set it free. Well, as soon as Cameron got off the bus, he went right to the garage looking for the critter. Not realizing how excited he was to see it, I told him that we caught it and let it go. It was right then and there that the tears started….and they wouldn’t stop. He went inside and the wailing continued for over an hour. He whined, and sobbed, and whimpered and glared, and all out sobbed some more. It was RIDICULOUS! I tried to be nice, apologized, was kind, was mean, threatened, sent him to his room, lectured, etc. NOTHING worked! That child came down for dinner, took his plate from the table and walked out to the back porch with it. When questioned, he told me he wanted to eat by himself. The nerve of that child! Fearing what I might do or say to him if he continued with his attitude, I obliged and was more than happy to allow him to eat outside….alone!

So that was my day. Pretty crappy.

Except the worst part of all, as I’m about to take my medicine, the warnings read that alcohol intensifies the effect of the medicine. Does this mean that I can’t drink my wine? What a tragedy!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Be prepared....the kid or the parent?

I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I told my son that if he wanted to, then of course he could be a part of Cub Scouts!

To start with, there was A LOT of paper work to fill out. Even Melvin and I had to fill out some forms to tell them how we were going to volunteer for the scouts. I used my “currently dealing with a medical emergency” phrase (what my brother calls pulling the cancer card) to bypass much volunteering.

Then they actually meet at least twice a month, at someone’s house, in the evening…with parents there. Honestly, I thought it was some little gathering after school where the boys learned to tie knots or something. That’s what brownies was like for me!

And then there’s the uniform. Thankfully, my neighbor across the street works for the Scouts and offered to pick up all the clothing requirements that Cameron would need. Again, I thought those shirts were just for special occasions. Didn’t know they had to be worn at every meeting. And then there’s a belt…and all those patches! My neighbor told me that Cameron could get away with going to his first meeting “as is” if I didn’t have time to sew on all the patches. Sew? I don’t even own any needle and thread. I went online to look up where the patches go, and oh my, it’s quite rigid. The pictures show where on the seam they should be placed, how many inches apart, etc. Very military-like! There's even an inspection sheet! I bet I’m going to have to actually iron this shirt as well!

But the good thing is, Cameron’s really exited about this. And Melvin was home today to take him, so I was really excited about them spending some time together. Hopefully this will turn into a regular “daddy” thing.

However, they left a crying Max, who said he was a boy, so he should be able to go to boy scouts, too.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

At least my toes don't hurt

I’ve mentioned before that amongst all this cancer stuff, I want things to stay as normal as possible around the house…especially with the kids. So I’ll have Ella sit on my lap when I’m reading to her, even though I have to be totally guarded about my left side, and the entire time I’m uncomfortable because I’m worried that she’s going to fling her head against my chest.

I try to make sure that my afternoon nap ends before Cameron gets off the bus so I can greet him, as he runs to me asking to go to friend’s house. (Although, he is quite used to me sleeping, as I used to nap all the time, precancer diagnosis! When I told him about the surgery and someone putting me to sleep, he told me that I wouldn’t need a doctor to put me to sleep because I do that all the time anyhow).

Today Max was very clingy, morning and around lunch time. He kept wanting me to pick him up and carry him around. I feel bad sometimes, so I obliged him (or maybe I should just admit that I don’t feel like listening to his whining so I give in to his demand of being hoisted around by me). Today, when I picked him up, he sorta leaned into my left side, so I immediately reminded him of my oweee. And then on my right side, he somewhat grabbed onto my shoulder, where my porto cath is, and so I pointed it out to him to let him know that it hurts if he touches me there. A bit exasperated, but still wanting to be close to me, he asked, “Are you hurting on your back, too?” I had to laugh, and let him actually hang out on my back, as long as he didn’t grab around my neck and shoulders. This didn’t last long.

I’ll be happy when I’m all healed. Because I do miss the closeness of my family.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

3 little warriors

Today Max’s “girlfriend” Abby (he does call her this like it’s her name), had a Princess birthday party. In the spirit of the party, the boys dawned Knight outfits, and I purchased a Dora princess outfit for Ella. Every time I picked it up, she’d say, “Pretty!” But that was as far as her admiration went.

When I put the lovely yellow gown on her, she wanted nothing to do with it. She kicked and screamed, as I forced it on her, and she tugged at the sleeves to try to get it off. She even threw herself on the floor in complete anger. Now I should have responded to her utmost annoyance and put her regular clothes back on, but honestly, she looked so cute! I figured she could at least show up at the princess party as a princess, and then if she still would not tolerate her gaudy girly outfit, I’d put her regular clothes back on.

Even when I gave her the wand, she threw it down with extreme force and a resounding, “No!” Immediately she grabbed one of the boy’s knight swords, waved it in the air and yelled, “Hi Ya! battling anyone who would dare to approach her.

I must say, that little girl made me proud. No damsel in distress in my house!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007


Since I’m not working now, and I have my mom and Sara around to help out, I figure I should take advantage of this extra help and try to get some organization to the mass chaos that has accumulated inside my cabinets, drawers, and other storage bins.

The other day I bought these really cute wicker crates at Target (on clearance..whoo hoo!). I took the dozens of books that were piled into a storage “cube” in our family room, basically “lost” to the eyes of my kids, and arranged them in these crates, one for each of my munchkins. This actually took quite a bit of time.

Later, when I was in an other room reading with Cameron, Ella and Max discovered their book crates. However, instead of using them as storage for their books, they decided to empty them, and store their own little behinds in the bottom of the crates while they read their books.

So much for my organization.
I guess I should at least be happy that they were reading.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Slash update -- not from Guns N Roses.

Slash! Poison! Burn! – My doctor’s description of how we’re going to get rid of this cancer.

It has been a week since “the slash” (my surgery). And for the most part, my spirits have been up and physically I’ve been fine.

Yesterday I met with my surgeon again. He finally took out this drainage tube, which was VERY annoying. (It’s hard to wash your hair when you have to hold the drainage bulb in one hand while trying to scrub your hair with the other). It was inconvenient (bulging out of my clothes) and uncomfortable. So I was happy to be rid of it. Apparently, my husband informed me, when I have my reconstruction, I will have a few drainage tubes on each side, and for longer. But no need to worry about that now.

I was hoping with the tube gone to get some exercise in today…at least a long walk, as the doctor said I should be okay to run by next week. But for some reason, I’m in more pain today. Maybe from lifting the kids the past couple days??? I’m not sure, but it seems harder to raise my arm today, and I’m just experiencing more discomfort than I have since I returned from the hospital. I haven’t really had to take any pain killers since earlier this week, but today, I think I’ll pop a Vicodin at nap time, and see how that works, because the ibuprofen I took this morning did nothing (and yes, I did have my coffee).

Back to the slash….The initial shock of the scar wasn’t too earth shattering. I had seen pictures, so I knew how deformed I was going to be. When I showed Melvin, he was all “It’s beautiful,” as he analyzed the sutures up close. What a surgical nerd! But I guess his response was better than when Cameron walked into the bathroom one day when I was getting ready and wrinkled up his nose, saying, “Ew gross!” Max was already so spooked by the whole hospital experience that I wasn’t about to emotionally scar him anymore by showing him what we call “my oweee.” (Though I have to admit, one time when he was crying for me to pick him up…for no good reason…and he wouldn’t stop, I flashed my drainage tube to remind him of why I couldn’t. He quickly backed away from me and didn’t ask me to pick him up for a couple days. Cruel, but effective!).

Besides the scar from the surgery, and now pencil size hole I have under my arm from the drainage tube, I also have this porta cath, which might be the grossest thing of all. Ever see the movie The Mummy, where those little cockroach creatures get under the skin of the man and crawl up his body. That’s what this looks like. Of course, it doesn’t crawl, but a couple inches below my neck is a quarter size ball, that protrudes out, with a small tube, also outlined in my skin, that leads up to a pea size ball, which leads into my vein (or artery or something). In the correct light, you can see it all very clearly, just underneath my skin. It’s creepy actually. But Dr. Sanan said it will be my friend when it comes time to chemotherapy. This way, they’ll just stab the “giant cockroach” (as I’ll refer to it now), instead of always struggling to find a vein.

Speaking of chemo, I have a couple weeks of healing, and then on Oct. 2nd, I meet with an oncologist. She’ll mix up my little “recipe,” and then we’ll start the next phase (Poison!) of completely obliterating this cancer.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

A girl and her shoes

Ella has graduated from the baby shoe bins at Target to the toddler aisle.

And despite the fact that Sara just picked up some pink and grey sneakers and a pair of brown Mary Janes, it was just impossible for me to pass up these boots!

Now I'm training her with the (Nany Sinatra?)song:
"These boots were made for walking
And that's just what they'll do.
One of these days these boots are gonna
Walk all over you!"

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Strength of Women

I love being a woman. Because when a woman is in crisis, her fellow sisters come running.

I cannot even begin to tell you about all the cards, e-mails, treats, flowers, etc. that I’ve been showered with since word of my cancer got out.

Messages from people I don’t even know have been pouring in. Complete strangers who have also dealt with breast cancer have been offering a lending “ear” for any questions I may have.

Individuals in my church’s mom’s group organized a prayer meeting, have taken me shopping, stopped by for visits, picked up the kids, made me treats and are constantly checking in on me.

My neighbor across the street, Katie, went into high gear. Not only did she personally offer tons of help for me, she organized the help from everyone else. She sent out an e-mail to our neighborhood list and compiled names, numbers and services people volunteered to do for me. My other neighbor down the street, Anne, then put this all in a spreadsheet for me, so that I knew exactly who to call if I needed help with the kids, errands run, etc. Katie also organized for meals to be delivered at 5:30, hot and ready to be eaten, for the first week after my surgery. I’ve been living the life of luxury, let me tell you! My husband asked if we can continue these meals for a month, as he’s never eaten so well, on a consistent basis.

Our nanny Sara has been at our beck and call, willing to stay for whatever we need her for, even giving up time on the weekend to help care for the kids when needed.

And then of course I can’t forget my mom. As soon as she found out, she immediately told her boss that she had to be out here for me. She’s an office manager, but somehow she’s been able to run the office 1000 miles away, so that she can be a huge help with the kids in the morning and in the evening, carting them to preschool and soccer, giving baths, chasing them down the sidewalk, etc.

I am so blessed, and God has truly placed such amazing, caring, strong women in my path to help me get through this “interesting” time in my life.

So I am in no way "wonder woman" BUT I am surrounded by MANY "wonder women!"

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

First day for Max

Today was Max’s first day of preschool. When I first signed him up, I was very hesitant. He just still seemed so young and immature. He refused to do swim lessons this summer, and we were having problems with dropping him off at kid’s church. However, this past month, it seems like he’s just grown and matured exponentially. His mannerisms, his reasoning, his conversations, all have seemed more mature…and funny.

These past few weeks, he has been so excited about going to school. He’ll be having a conversation with someone and then he’d turn to me and say, “Mom, what’s the name of my school?”

I’d respond and tell him the exact name of the school.

“But what’s the name of it?” he’d press on. “You know, the name!”

I finally figured out what he wanted, and I’d tell him.

He’d immediately turn to the adult or kid he was talking with and say excitedly, “I’m going to PREschool!”

Today he (and Cameron) were so excited about Max’s first day. Although, I was not happy when Cameron told Max that it would be okay if he called his teacher Miss Pig, even though her name is Miss Peg.

When I asked Max if he wanted me to take him, he told me no, that he wanted Mom-mom. So I obliged. He wasn’t happy at all that he didn’t get to bring a lunch, and he insisted on gathering some crayons to put in a baggy to use at school, but other than those few battles, the morning scramble went pretty smoothly.

And despite all the trouble he’s caused as a little munchkin, the whining, the bedtime battles, the screaming and tantrums, those days seem to be dwindling (which is fine with me). And I actually felt a tinge of sadness as my mom pulled away from the driveway, taking him away to school.

I did get to pick him up, and he was nothing but a chatterbox about everything he did. “We learned our LETTERS! We sang SONGS! We acted like ANIMALS!” He went on and on, drawing out the last word in a sing-song fashion.

I think preschool will suit him quite well this year.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

My "puppy"

My doctor has all these really great analogies for cancer and dealing with it.

At the hospital, Dr. Sanan said that the cancer is like a puppy that pees all over the house. The dog has to pee, so you give it its area to let it do what it needs to do, and then the rest of the house should be fine. Just like cancer, you have to give it its proper time and place, but you can’t let it take over your whole life. And he said that people will try to tell you to rest and that you shouldn’t be out and about, but that I just have to do what I normally do as long as I feel fine with it.

So today, I gave my cancer its time…in the morning.,,when I was finally able to take a shower for the first time since last Friday (talk about some greasy hair). So I had no choice but to face this ugly cancer…or should I say the after effects of it, by finally taking off the bandages and looking at the ugly scar. And that’s just what it is….ugly. Or I could say gross. Or I could say absolutely disgusting. It actually indents in, is all crooked, and goes up higher than I thought it would. But oh well. Nothing I can do about it. A small price I have to pay for my life…I guess. And in a year, it will all be put back together when Dr. Harrington makes me “pretty” again…at least that’s what she told me. And this porta-cath sticks out a bit like a bone on my right side, just below my neck. It’s gross as well. But again, oh well.

After I gave my “puppy” its “pee spot” I got on with my life. Which today meant shopping! It went from 90 degrees to 60 degrees in a two day period. Ella needed jeans, so Sara drove and we went shopping with the kids. Then I came home, had lunch, took a Vicodan for my discomfort…but mostly to help me sleep…and proceeded to take a 3 hour nap. By the time I woke up, it was time for Cameron to come home from school, dinner, soccer practice, then baths and bed. Not bad for a first full day away from the hospital.

Shopping and sleeping….I think I can handle this.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm back

I’m home. With one less boob, a few non-cancerous lymph nodes removed, a tube sticking out of me and a porta-cath imbedded in me. Oh yeah, and that damn 3.1 cm cancerous lump gone...the thing that started all this!

I had no internet access a the hospital, so the following is what I composed last night.


I started out Friday morning at the Breast Center at United Hospital hungry and in desperate need of coffee. Instead of food and drink, I got an injection straight into my nipple. That was quite painful. But the doctor said she liked my painted toenails, so despite the pain she inflicted, I liked her.

After awhile, I was then sent to a pre-op room. There I had to put on this odd soft paperish gown that actually was hooked up to some vacuum looking hose. Except instead of sucking out air, it pumped in either cold or warm air, depending on how I set the remote. It was actually kind of fun, and quite comfortable. I had a wonderful pre-op nurse…Debra or Brenda…can’t quite remember her name. But she was very kind, explained everything very clearly and just had a soothing tone of concern in her voice. In this room I received an IV, not a fun experience, but not as bad as the nipple needle.

Then all the doctors came in. First the anesthesiologist. He seemed nice enough. Told me they’d give me something to relax me first, then something that would knock me out. I didn’t really have any questions…just wanted to make sure I was put to sleep….”and that we wake you up!” he added. Oh yes, I guess that would be nice as well.

They told me that the vascular surgeon who was to insert the portal cathter (for easy chemo administration), was across the street at the day surgery center but would be over soon. When he finally did come over, my confidence in his abilities wained a bit…as he seemed a little shaky, and as he was explaining what he was going to he’d add, “Or I’ll just see what they have in there for me and decide.” When he left the room, I asked my husband if maybe he was actually across the street at the local bar before he came over. Melvin laughed and said he’s actually one of the best doctors and that was just the way that he always is. After all, his name was Dr. Hope, so I guess I couldn’t be too worried, right?

Finally Dr. Sanan came in and just went through it all again quickly, of what they were going to do. Nothing new. I had no questions. Just wanted this all done and over with.

And then we waited, and as I was listening to Hold Me Jesus, I broke down a little in tears. Just scared of the pain, the surgery, the strangers, etc. But I quickly got myself together, and before I knew it, my mom and my husband were saying good bye, the relaxing medicine was inserted in my IV, and I was in the operating room, looking up at these two huge round lights…and then blank…I was knocked out.

I woke up briefly in the recovery room, to Dr. Sanan telling me that they removed 3 lymph nodes and they did not contain cancer. So that was great. Next thing I knew, I was being wheeled to my regular room, where the clock had read 5:30! I couldn’t believe how late it was already. At this point, things were not starting out so well.

First of all, it felt like someone was crushing my chest and arm…that was just the pain from the surgery. Not a sharp pain, but a VERY uncomfortable one. I asked for some meds, and it took quite some time for them to finally administer me anything.

The first nurse I had was not pleasant at all….which was not the experience I needed at that moment. Melvin started asking her some questions about the meds ordered. She looked at him and said, “Are you a nurse?” To which he responded that he was a surgeon. She told him that he looked too young to be a surgeon, but did he do surgery at this hospital. He said he does some here, but mostly at St. John’s. She then proceeded to tell him that she just had some surgery at St. Johns and she was not pleased at all with the care she received over there. Kinda what I was thinking about her at this point.

Thankfully, that nurse was sent home sick, apparently. I had a nurse shuffle for a while, until the regular night nurse, Karna, came in. She was young and kind, and I felt much better with her. Then at some point I had another nice one named Michelle, Then in the morning I had Joanna, who constantly was checking on me and making sure I didn’t need anything. They were great.

Throughout the night, I was given different meds. The Dilauded was awesome. They injected it directly into my IV. Although I’m not sure if it took away the pain, or if I just didn’t feel any pain for a while because it immediately knocked me out. The downside was that every time I got up to use the bathroom or something I would become very nauseas and dizzy. But since fluids were constantly being pumped into me, I had to continually have bathroom breaks. I was literally awake all through the night…at least 4 times an hour I’d wake up…and then drift back….and wake up…and drift back. All the while having to assess my pain on some arbitrary scale of 1 – 10 to the nurses. I felt like some drug addict asking for more pain meds, but they gave them willingly, so I figured it was necessary.

Besides the pain and bathroom breaks that kept me up all night, my IV kept making a noise all night long. It was like those old laser jet printers, just printing one line across a piece of paper….every 17 seconds! It was ridiculous, but my husband said you couldn’t do anything about it.

By morning time, I was feeling only a little better with the pain. Overall, I just felt horrible. They brought my breakfast (I hadn’t had a thing to eat the entire day or night before), but I just couldn’t eat anything. I still felt dizzy and nauseous, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

My mom, husband and the kids came to visit me. That perked me up for a bit. Although, when Max walked in the room, he just had a look of fear on his face, and acted like he was afraid of me. The kids were there long enough for the nurses to oooh and aaah over them, but then the crying and screaming started, and they just had to go. When they left, my head was hurting, and a constant headache took over as the pain leader. My whole head felt like it was going to explode. Having lunch and drinking water didn’t help. I was given Vicatin, but that didn’t help. Motrin didn’t help either. Neither did the ice pack that the nurse gave me.

But then my husband showed up with the “wonder drug.” No, not a glass of wine! But a cup of coffee…caramel latte to be exact. And don’t you know I was enduring hours of a painful headache that was easily and quickly soothed with a cup of coffee. Oh man, I’m addicted. Once I had that coffee, everything felt better. No headache, no dizziness, no nausea. I even felt good enough to go home, but it was too late for that, and remembering how my kids left the hospital, I was glad to be lying in peace and quiet.

So hopefully, I’ll sleep better tonight, and after the doctor takes off this dressing and such, I’ll be ready to return home. After all, apparently when Max was saying prayers at dinner tonight, he asked God for me to come home tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to disappoint that little cutie pie.

And now I’m home. Not in much pain, just some discomfort. Able to walk around and such. Kinda bored, but not really wanting to do anything! After eating some lunch and admiring all the cards, flowers and cookies, I think I’ll take a bit of a break.

Thanks again everyone for all your prayers and well wishes!

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Almost time.

Tomorrow's the big day.

I go in for some more radioactive injections at 9:30,.they're going to run some wand over me to see where I beep a lot, so they know where to take out some lymph nodes (or something like that).

I hit the chopping block around noonish.

The pre-op people called today to get all of my medical history and give instructions on tomorrow.

No alcohol tonight the lady told me.

So I'm wondering, what time is night?

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A "fun" shopping trip

Today my friend Andrea (pictured above) and I went shopping today for post-mastectomy stuff…if you know what I’m saying. Or should I say, post-mastectomy stuffing!

I’m so thankful to my friend for doing this with me. I knew it was something that I needed to do, but I have been very nervous about it and putting it off and putting it off. Without my even mentioning it to her, Andrea approached me and asked if I wanted her to go shopping with me. She even took the time to find some places online and set up an appointment for me. Honestly, somehow she knew that this is exactly what I needed someone to do for me.

I’m especially grateful because Andrea’s mom died of breast cancer when Andrea was 17, and sometimes I wonder if this brings back some very sad memories for her. But she’s been so especially helpful to me and I thank her for that.

We went to a store called, A Fitting Place, in Hastings. This was just the place that I needed to go. It was very cute, with a bunch of different rooms for various stages of the post-mastectomy/chemo process. One room was for wigs, another had swimsuits and sun hats, the front room had jewelry and inspirational knick knacks, and the back room, where I hung out, had all the necessary post-op wear.

The lady who owns the place had a sister who died from breast cancer, which inspired her to open this store. Her extensive knowledge of what I would need, the quaint décor, the Christian music playing the background, and my good friend tagging along with me, actually made this to be a very pleasant experience. I got what I needed, and now maybe when this surgery is all done, I won’t be hiding like a hermit after all.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

First day First grade

Today was Cameron’s first day of school. He wasn’t thrilled at all about me taking this picture:

“Can’t you just use the one from last year?” he whined.

His bus came 25 minutes late. I thought maybe the bus driver was lost or something but I imagine the tardiness had something to do with all the moms and dads needing to get a picture of their kid literally getting on the bus, making them stop, turn around, and smile for a “first day” photo.

The bus was also 40 minutes late getting home.

Cameron said he had a good day. But his biggest concern about 1st grade (something he noticed when he went in for testing earlier this month) is that there were no toys in the classroom.

“What will we play with?” he asked me. “I mean what will we do like during free time and stuff? What will we do in school without toys?”

Ummmm, I don’t know. Maybe this year you’ll actually LEARN SOMETHING!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Normal? or maybe not.

I keep saying I want for things to be as normal as possible in our house for our kids while all this cancer stuff is going on. So Cameron will still have soccer and he’ll be starting scouts, Max will still be heading to preschool 2 mornings a week, and Ella will be hanging out around the house as usual…maybe I’ll even find a music class for her.

But after this morning, maybe everything being normal isn’t exactly what I want to strive for. Take our “normal” morning today. Cameron wakes up around 6:30 AM, and the others not long after. Ella drinks all the milk out of her cereal bowl, then dumps the cereal out on the table and tosses the bowl, letting me know she’d rather have Cameron’s oatmeal instead. Later she manages to finagle half a cookie out of me, but tosses it across the table as well, because she wants the whole thing. Then she opts instead for a banana, which she smushes all over the table, chairs and up and down her arms…just because she can I guess. And she found a marker...need I say more?

Also what is fairly normal in our household is Cameron asking at least 9 times before 10 AM if he can have a friend over to play Lego Star Wars. And when I continually tell him it’s too early, he decides to occupy himself by terrorizing his brother and sister, chasing them around the house threatening to eat them. Their response includes ear splitting screams as they try to hide around me. Basically, all hell breaks loose.

And what’s typical for Max is whining….all…morning…long.

So maybe I don’t need everything to be so normal after all. .

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Countdown to the 7th

I think the reality of what I’m going through is beginning to sink in more and more. And it all scares me now. This whole weekend I found myself constantly thinking things like, This is the last Saturday I’ll be “normal” with my family. This is the last time I’ll be in church as my “normal” self. This is the last time I’ll be having friends over to watch a movie when I’m “normal.” This is the last time I'll be having our usual Sunday brunch as a "normal" person. etc. I suddenly want to do a bunch of stuff…go shopping, get pictures taken, get my hair done, get a pedicure…all as my “normal” self. Not that I won’t be able to do all of this once the surgery is over and I’m healed. But I fear it will just be different…that I will just be different. And that is what scares me the most.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

50/50 chance

I’ve been starting to get a little nervous about the surgery on Friday. The needles, the procedure, the pain, etc.

And then in the mail I get a pre-op form to fill out. Included with this was a pamphlet from United Hospital called Patient Guide for Surgery. It states:

Surgery Date: 9/7/07

Surgeon: Dr. Sanan

Arrival Time: 10:00 AM at Breast Center

Procedure: Right sentinel node biopsy, Right mastectomy

Procedure Time: 12:30 PM

Ummm…………my cancer is in my LEFT breast.

This mailing definitely didn’t help my nerves. Do I actually need to mark with a Sharpie where my cancer is located?

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